By ironman, · 1,838 Views · 6 Comments
For those of you who are interested, my husband and I both have a detailed reviews on Trip Advisor that are more resort-specific. I’ll try to keep this review of everything wedding-related only! I’ll also start a planning thread in case you’re interested in that as well! (see http://www.bestdestinationwedding.com/topic/75836-kims-planning-thread-december-2013/)
We were married at Now Jade in December 2013 and we stayed for a week, as did many of our guests. Our wedding was scheduled at 3:00 PM (Pergola), 4:00-5:00 (Cocktail Hour - Orange Lounge) and 6:00-10:00 (Reception - Castaways). We had 39 adults, 4 kids and 1 infant attend.
Wedding Coordinators/Initial Meeting/Days Before the Wedding:
Originally we were working with Pilar as our Wedding Coordinator, but a few weeks out this shifted to Ariadna. Email communication with Ariadna was much quicker. When we arrived at Now Jade, we also met Fernando (I’m 90% sure this was his name…). Working with Ariadna and Fernando was excellent. Both were very professional, helpful and available almost every time we went in to the wedding office. They definitely work long hours and are good at what they do!
We did a cake taste test at our meeting with the wedding coordinators, and I totally recommend doing this. We were able to pick three flavours in advance and were able to try a mini cake of each kind. The cheesecake cake that we tried was quite good, but we ended up going with Chocolate Passion Black Tie with Raspberry Filling. Having the mini cakes to test definitely made everything seem more real to me, I felt so special when they brought them in - I felt like a bride!
Since we booked a post-Now Jade mini honeymoon at a different resort, we asked in advance if we could use our return transportation to bring us there instead. It was very kind that they allowed us to do this, and helped save us the cost of transport to the new resort (although it probably helped that we were booked again within the AMResorts group - we went to Secrets the Vine).
We were told (in writing) before arriving that since we had booked and paid for the Governor Suite that our room upgrade would be gifted to my fiancés parents. This did not happen when they checked in, and when we inquired about it at our first meeting, we were told that there was now no availability for this promised upgrade.
Also, we booked and confirmed the date and time of our romantic dinner on the beach at the initial meeting with our wedding coordinator. One hour before our dinner, Ariadna told us that we were being bumped to a different time. Considering we had confirmed our booking just the day before, I felt frustrated that we would be bumped to accommodate someone else. This affected the plans we had made with our family later that evening, and while the dinner was really nice, we were the only ones dining at 8 PM and felt pressured to leave right after dinner since the waiter was standing there waiting for us, even though we could have easily sat, finished another glass of wine and enjoyed it for much longer.
We didn’t use the videographer, and I never bothered to ask about receiving any credit for this unused service.
We also really enjoyed the couples massage included in the divine package, which we went for right after meeting with the wedding coordinators.
I went to the spa at 10:00 to have my hair done with Angela. She did a nice job, but my hair is so long and heavy that she probably should have used some elastics or something to hold it together better. We had to do a few self-adjustments during photos, and by the reception it was all falling out. I’m a bit nervous to see photos of what it looked like by the end of the dance! Even though it totally fell out, I found Angela to be good at replicating what I brought her in a photo of.
Our photographer set a timeline for us, and I wish we actually had more time for photos before the ceremony. In retrospect, I would have made my hair appointment for 9:30 AM. Below was the timeline we agreed upon with our photographer and videographer (we hired and brought them both down from Canada with us):
Guys 12-12:40 (details and getting ready)
Dress 12:45-2 (details and getting ready)
First look 2:15 (behind wall or door without seeing each other)
Pre Ceremony 2:45 - guests arrive
Group shot and family 3:30-4
Reception 6- whenever the pinata comes out ;)
Yes, with a 3 PM ceremony the guys got ready early. We told them that even if they got dressed when the photographer was there, and then undressed and re-dressed later, that would be fine (but I’m not actually sure if they did or not).
The flowers on the pergola and the centerpiece are provided as part of the divine package. We were told that they would match my bridal bouquet. They didn't match AT ALL. I liked my bouquet (white and purple roses) which I saw before the ceremony, but the flowers I saw for the first time when I was standing at the pergola were a huge disappointment. I was expecting them to be white and purple, but instead they were red. They didn't match at all. I’m honestly a pretty relaxed person, but I can recall not being impressed that the flowers were totally off. I remember standing at the front during the ceremony looking at them thinking “what the heck!?!?”.
We brought chair bows down and I think these added nice colour to the set-up. I saw brides earlier in the week who had rented the Tiffany chairs, and they really looked fabulous, but with such a large group, for us they weren’t worth the added cost.
During the ceremony we found the sound system could have been turned up a bit louder, but in general it was fine. The wedding coordinator (or the sound system person, I’m not sure who it was) did a good job of playing the songs we wanted (we gave them our iPad and a list with for processional/recessional).
We only sampled one item from the cocktail hour, I think it might have been a Boursin Cheese Canape, but it wasn’t Boursin Cheese like I was expecting. It was a square of some kind of cheese with I think a blueberry skewered (so perhaps it was the other cheese one we selected, but I sure don’t remember it having a chipotle sauce –whatever, minor details). We heard from our guests that the rest of the hors d’oeurves were average (we selected the Boursin Cheese Canape, Mini Tamales, Acapulco Shrimp Ceviche on Tartallet, and Panela Cheese in Chipotle Sauce). From the photo I saw, I thought they did a nice job with the signature drinks. For the cocktail hour we had a Purple Rain, which they garnished with a starfruit, and for the reception, there was champagne with a cherry in it.
We brought down our own photographer, so we had the resort photographer take pictures during cocktail hour only. My Mom told me he was pretty disorganized, and she ended up encouraging people to get into groups so he could take posed photos. Nobody ever told us what we needed to do afterwards, so an hour before we were scheduled to leave, we went to Adventure Photos and quickly picked through the 24 that were included in the package. They gave us a CD right away, and a photo book is being mailed to us. After seeing the photos they took at the cocktail hour I’m happy we didn’t use Adventure Photos as our wedding photographer.
We used the guitarist as part of the divine package during the cocktail hour. We could hear him playing as we were taking photos in the courtyard. He played for 45 minutes and I feel he added nice ambience during this time.
There are many reasons why I'm not entirely satisfied with the wedding experience at Now Jade. First and foremost was the food. For dinner, we had selected the Caprese Salad, Lobster Bisque, Beef Filet or Tuna Steak and Chocolate Souffle for our guests. We had a lobster bisque when we had our romantic dinner on the beach and it was good. However the lobster bisque our guests were served was so oversalted, actually making it inedible. I couldn't even eat any of mine. I was so surprised by this, since I’d read such positive reviews about the Lobster Bisque on here, and the one we had on the beach was good. For the entrees, in the wedding planning guide, it suggests the tuna is served rare, but it was served well-done. Also, it said it was yellow tail tuna. I don't believe we were served yellow tail tuna, it seemed instead to be Albacore, and tasted like the kind you would get out of a can (if it was yellow tail, it sure wasn’t like the yellow tail you buy up here…). And again, we had great steaks earlier in the week, but for our wedding, the filet was also served well-done and we didn’t find it very good. You would especially think that the meal for the bride and groom would be served correctly, but overall the meal was very poorly executed. As the bride, I did not enjoy my meal at all and I was not happy with the quality of the food. On a positive note, the dessert and the wedding cake were both good. I don’t think I ate a whole piece of wedding cake, but our guests said it was moist and tasty. Also, we didn’t order any extra cake and there were a TON of leftovers. We paid $3,000 for the divine wedding package which includes dinner for 25 adults, plus an additional $934.92 USD for the dinner for an additional 14 adults. The quality of the dinner absolutely did not reflect the price we paid for this.
We brought paper straws down with fun things written on the flags and, from what I could see, I thought that the waiters did a good job handing them out at the cocktail hour and reception.
Rather than doing a slideshow, we did a photo display in Castaways. I think it worked out beautifully. We brought down string, closepins and probably 60 photos, or 20 photos per string. Ariadna and Fernando did a great job setting this up the way I described to them. Our guests could go up and look at the photos at their leisure. I’ll post some photos of what this looked like, and if any brides are booked in Castaways, I totally recommend doing this, it turned out awesome.
We didn’t have a DJ. We brought an iPad and used the WeddingDJ app during the reception. Apart from us needing to have someone hit some buttons a few times, it worked REALLY well. The sound system plugged in to the headphone jack on the iPad. There was however a problem with using only one speaker – any songs that were recorded in stereo sounded off, and since every home computer or sound system has at least two speakers this isn’t something you would ever notice until you use a soundboard with only one speaker connected so there is no way to know in advance which songs are going to sound okay and which ones aren’t. I don’t know how many people noticed it, but my husband definitely did.
The piñata. Oh my gosh, was this ever a hit. We bought a piñata in Playa del Carmen and filled it with candy. The wedding coordinators hung it in the middle of the dance floor and after a few dances we busted out a stick and smashed it. The bartender poured tequila shots and everyone would take a shot before they got to take a swing. This got everyone up from the tables and excited for the action. I’m so happy we decided to do this, it helped set a really good tone for the rest of the evening. I can’t wait to see the photos!
We paid to extend our reception by an hour. For 39 adults, this cost us $737.10. For us, this was 100% worth it.
After the Wedding/The Wedding Overall:
The day after the wedding, our suitcase and backpack were brought back to our room while we were away. However, not everything turned up back in my room after the wedding (only 8/40 paper lanterns were returned, none of the LED lantern lights were returned- even though they weren't all used, 13 missing chair bows etc...). I’m probably just paranoid, but this made me think that several things were kept at Now Jade to instead rent out to other weddings in the future. I was hoping to try and sell some of the stuff, but it’s not a big deal, I guess.
An afterthought - I know weddings aren’t cheap, but it sure seems as if money gets sucked out of you in every possible way. Chair bow fees, lantern hanging fees, $5 extra per person over 25 adults for sparkling wine toast, when sparkling wine is FREE at the bar five feet away from where it was being handed out, etc…. It probably would have been nice to have a podium for speeches or a video projector and screen, but for their rental price, those were a few of the many things we decided to skip…
Although in my mind the negatives stand out (especially the food), but there were definitely many positives about our wedding. Most notably, Ariadna and Fernando were great. Apart from the problem with the flowers, the food and a few other things, the coordinators implemented everything the way I imagined (although I was very detailed and specific with my instructions). They were in regular communication with me during the reception to ensure we got everything done during the time we had, and they went out of their way to find a stick for our pinata, which we only provided them the day before the wedding. They also printed out menu cards and had them on the tables, which is something I never had time to do beforehand, but I noticed this extra effort.
Don’t get me wrong, we still had a great time with our family and friends, but for the above mentioned reasons (combined with what I’ve highlighted in my TripAdvisor review), based on my personal experience, I would be hesitant to recommend Now Jade to other brides as a location for their wedding. For those of you already booked, don’t worry the food at the reception probably can’t be any worse than what we experienced. Regardless, I’m sure you’ll have a GREAT time! I still think about the happy memories from our wedding every single day J
I'll try and post some photos at http://members.shaw.ca/kschwartz/wedding.html - Also, feel free to contact me if you have any questions!